March 11, 2009
Whitworth Professor Co-Authors New Book on Latino Protestant Christianity
Although Latinos are now the largest ethnic minority in the U.S. and Latino Protestant churches are among the fastest-growing in the country, the story of Latino Protestantism remains largely untold. In an effort to preserve and highlight the history of this quietly thriving community, a group of church historians has collaborated on a new book, Los Evangélicos: Portraits of Latino Protestantism in the United States (Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2009).
Los Evangélicos, which is written in English and is part of a larger project of the Commission for the Study of the History of the Church in Latin American and the Caribbean (CEHILA), challenges the way in which the history of Christianity in the U.S. has traditionally been told. Whitworth Modern Languages Professor Lindy Scott, who co-edited and co-wrote Los Evangélicos, says it is the first book to cover so many denominations and topics within the Latino Protestant community.
"The book is somewhat unique in that it covers the broad spectrum of Latino/Hispanic churches in the United States," Scott says. "It is our hope that this project helps to round out the study of Christianity."
Scott wrote a chapter about Latino congregations within the Evangelical Free Church as well as a chapter about Rejes Tijerina, a Pentecostal preacher who launched a social justice campaign so that Hispanics in the Southwest could recover land that had been stolen from them. Scott says that although Tijerina was among the most important Hispanic leaders in the 1960s and 1970s, few people know about the Biblical basis of his struggle.
Scott and 10 other authors spent five years working on Los Evangélicos. The first half of the book contains an introduction to the history of Latino Protestantism in the 19th century, then chronicles the history of Hispanic ministries within five denominations: American Baptists, Assemblies of God, Apostolic Assemblies, the Evangelical Free Church, and Last Call Ministries. The second section covers six themes within Latino Protestant church life: acculturation, the role of women, social justice, Hispanic hymnology, missiology, and mass media. It concludes with a discussion about future challenges the Latino Protestant community will face.
In the prologue to Los Evangélicos, Justo Gonzales, a Cuban-American historian, theologian, author, and prominent contributor to the development of Hispanic theology, writes, "This book is an invitation to collect the stories that are in danger of being forgotten. [It] reminds us to correct the traditional mode of telling the story of Christianity in the United States. At last we have good 'photographers' – women and men with the ability to study particular moments or elements of our history and to do so with clarity and wisdom."
The authors of the book assert that an exhaustive history of Latino Protestantism in the U.S. still is needed. Through Los Evangélicos, they are sending out a call to members of that community to interpret within wider contexts the stories they included in the book and elsewhere.
"Telling our stories is both a testimony that God has been present in our pilgrimage and a confession regarding the future…Thus, we will keep collecting portraits and preparing to take new snapshots of whatever God may do in the future," the authors state on the book's back cover. "Our 'photo album' closes at a dynamic moment for Latino Protestant churches in the United States. From many different perspectives, the authors of this book present a growing, enthusiastic church ready to serve the Lord."
Scott, who teaches Spanish and Latin American Studies at Whitworth, holds a doctorate from Northwestern University and two master's degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Scott previously taught for 12 years at Wheaton College, where he directed the Center for Applied Christian Ethics. He is co-editor of the book Terrorism and the War in Iraq: A Christian Word from Latin America (2004) and editor of the Journal of Latin American Theology: Christian Reflections from the Latino South. He is also the U.S.A. coordinator for the Fraternidad Teológica Latinoamericana (Latin American Theological Fellowship) and was the recipient of the Christian Writer of the Year Award presented by the Asociación Cristiana de Periodismo, in Mexico.
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,600 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Lindy Scott, professor of modern languages, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4837 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or email@example.com.